The Silence of the Snow

I woke this morning with a wave of melancholy washing over me. It wasn’t so much because of the arctic temperatures, nor because of what I saw outside my window. Because, as far as end-of-winter views go, it’s rather pretty (as long as I remain INside):

DSC03464Rather, the underlying reason for feeling blue had more to do with realizing that, at least for today, I was not where I felt I was meant to be. In Bali. Marking the New Year. In silence.

If you’ve been following my writings for awhile, you’ll know how much anticipation builds up in Bali in the weeks leading up to Nyepi; you might remember the many times I’ve described my sense of awe and enthusiasm over the Ogoh Ogoh monsters and Ngrupuk processions, the preparations, the noticeable transition from regular ruckus to the expansive and exquisite sounds of quiet.

JpegYes, roads in Ubud really do completely empty out – just like this.

I’ve written about the uniqueness of Nyepi, the appreciation I have for this one day when everything shuts down in order for the Balinese (and those of us who reside on their island) to turn inwards and pause in self-reflection. Even in the first hours of silence, there lingers a palpable echo, a remnant of lives and cars and bikes and shops and gamelan and burnt demon-effigies that have switched off just moments ago.

The silence of the snow has an entirely different quality. Whereas Nyepi is a brief yet meaningful lull amidst the busy and productive lives of the Balinese, what the snow brings is a deep and long-term chill. Bali’s Day of Silence brings with it a sense of possibility – for the new year, for what blessings the spirits will grant to the people for tomorrow and the following days, whereas winter’s silence is a harbinger of starkness and a constant reminder of hibernation (at least it is so for me.. brrrrrr!!).

And so, as I dress in too many layers of leggings, wool socks, turtleneck, sweater, boots, hat, scarf, mittens and puffy jacket and wade out into the snow – causing it to crackle slightly underfoot, I can’t help but feel that the silence I prefer is that which settles down over an entire island, just a few degrees south of the equator, on the other side of the world.

Selamat hari nyepi, my friends…DSC02554


  1. You may have found this Nyepi eve to have a somewhat different energy from prior years. The Ogoh Ogoh are always amazing, but even the parade had a somewhat pensive feel, as though everyone already had one foot in the silent tomorrow.

  2. Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi. Coincidentally (well not so much, as I AM in Bali), I just posted a story about Nyepi on my blog too. And my title was just “The Silence” (sans snow!). It’s Earth Hour next week, so you can partake in a brief moment!

    1. Thanks Sally, I’ll check out your blog.. meanwhile, from a very wintry day on this side of the world, we are celebrating the first full day of spring with a snowfall.. I miss Bali!!!

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